Full Speed Into the Wireless Network

Full Speed Into the Wireless Network

by Heather Hayes

The buildup of high-speed networks is not just a land-line phenomenon. Several existing breakthroughs in wireless standards and technologies are beginning to make good on the promise of anytime, anywhere service and mobility.

Already, end users are beginning to access the Internet with their cell phones, and the military is utilizing wireless local area networks on board Navy ships and tactical LANs out in the field. But nomadic computing is well on its way to what is known as its Third Generation (3G), and gets a boost this year with two new important new standards:

? Wireless application protocol, an open standard that allows wireless devices to communicate independently of a vendor or wireless network, which will allow users to access information and Internet services more easily and quickly.

? Bluetooth, a standard and de facto cable replacement that uses a short-range wireless connection to enable mobile and personal devices such as phones, pagers, personal digital assistants and notebook computers, as well as PCs, printers and network servers, to communicate with each other.

Both Wireless Application Protocol-enabled and Bluetooth products will begin shipping this year.

In addition, wireless transmission standards finally are beginning to evolve from circuit switched, a switching technique that establishes a dedicated and uninterrupted connection between the sender and the receiver, to packet switched, which sends data much more speedily in noncontinuous packets of information.

As a result, over the next year or two, organizations can expect to see wireless data transmission rates topping 300 and 400 kilobits per second. What's more, they will have the ability to deliver richer and more robust services, such as corporate e-mail, instant and unified messaging, enterprise calendar management and data collection and synchronization, as well as some data mining and real-time transaction management.

Global Packet Radio Service, a packet-switched data transmission standard, will have a limited launch in the United States this year.

"These new wireless standards are really going to give us the potential to extend the network into areas where it hasn't been before," said Cora Carmody, chief information officer for Litton-PRC, a systems integrator in McLean, Va.

"The 3G networks that are getting rolled out in the next couple of years will hopefully become pervasive over the next three or four years, and just the amount of data transfer that they're going to allow will really astound you," agreed Cory Reed, chief executive officer of NoTime Wireless, a provider of wireless technologies in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

"The resource constraints that hold us back today are just not going to be issues," Reed said. "Of course, there will be things still to deal with like security, but the speed of data transfer won't be one of them."

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